Learning from chickens

Chickens in the poultry facility

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The first thing I notice when we step through white double doors of the growers’ house is that every one of the 1,200 or so chickens in this enormous room has stopped whatever it was doing to stare at us. A few of the birds step closer, peering at our legs as if they want to peck our shoes. But they don’t. They’re just curious. Chickens, I realize, are gawkers.

This is one of six massive buildings that house the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Poultry Research Farm, a research and training facility that captures every life stage of these birds, from egg-laying to hatching to adulthood. The facility teaches students about chicken care and breeding, and provides eggs and birds to researchers here and across the country.

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